City of Penticton development services director Anthony Haddad says the city has handed out over 100 business licences for vacation rentals in the last two years.                                (Screengrab/Airbnb)

City of Penticton development services director Anthony Haddad says the city has handed out over 100 business licences for vacation rentals in the last two years. (Screengrab/Airbnb)

Penticton vacation rental licences quadruple since 2015

More than 100 of the approximately 140 business licences handed out by the city came since 2015

Vacation rental licences with the City of Penticton has quadrupled over the past two years, as the city worked to develop full regulations on the short-term rentals.

Development services director Anthony Haddad said the city has issued business licences for about 140 vacation rentals in Penticton, a “significant increase” over the 34 licences the city had issued by 2015.

A big part of that increase, Haddad said, is from the city reaching out to people listing on sites like Vacation Rentals By Owner and Airbnb, as well as the tiered system of vacation rental regulations, which makes it less onerous on smaller, part-time vacation rental owners.

Related: Penticton plans review of online rental listings

“We brought our report to council in around about this time last year that looked at approximately 350 to 400 vacation rentals in the city that we knew were out there,” Haddad said. “Now that we’ve provided some more active enforcement and communication around it, we’ve seen the numbers, obviously, that come in and get licensed increase over the last couple of years.”

Haddad said the next step for the city is to analyze how the program has been going for city hall, the community and the vacation rentals.

The Vacation Rental By Owner website has over 150 listings for Penticton and the immediate area.

“What we’re in the process, now, of doing is going through all the data around those approvals, and we’ll be reporting back to council over the next couple of months in terms of direction moving forward,” Haddad said.

“Looking at who’s renting their units out, where they’re being rented out, what issues we’ve had with complaints and issues around the vacation rentals. We’ve also been doing a lot of work with other communities seeing what they’ve been doing.”

Related: More online vacation rentals found in Penticton

The city also presented in a panel discussion at this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities on vacation rentals on what they are doing on the issue and hearing from other municipalities on their experiences with it.

“It’s a balance between providing a unique vacation option, but also looking at the housing stock within Penticton as well, so that’s certainly part of the discussion of the data that we’re pulling from these licences that we’ve issued,” he said, adding he expects that data to head to council in the next couple of months.

Though there is no shortage of stories of problematic vacation rentals, Haddad said the city hasn’t received a lot of complaints from neighbours.

Related: Airbnb pledges to help B.C. cities regulate, tax vacation rentals

“One requirement that we have for the major high-occupant vacation rentals is before we issue a licence for that, we require the landowner to consult with the adjacent neighbours,” Haddad said, though he was unable to say how many complaints the city has had.

“As part of our program, as well, we make sure that the vacation rentals post a notice on the front window or visibly from the street with contact information of either the manager of the property or property owner.”

Airbnb’s website has nearly 200 listings for Penticton and the immediate area, but it’s unclear how many overlap with VRBO’s 150 listings.

Though city staff noted around 400 vacation rentals last year, it’s unclear how many are operating currently. Airbnb’s website has 196 listings, while the VRBO website has 152 active in the city and in the immediate area.

Related: Airbnb, housing issues get spotlight at UBCM

It’s not clear how much overlap there is between the sites, however, but Haddad said the city is looking into that over the next couple of months.

Asked whether the city has shut down any vacation rentals, Haddad only said the city works enforcement on a basis of complaints, and that it is up to the property owners to get the proper licensing.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

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